The Things We Never Think We Have To Do….Are The Things We Must

There are likely many careers in which a person knows exactly what each day will bring but teaching is nothing like that. It’s a career in motion and, though it moves at different speeds, it is always full of surprising moments. Having said that, I remember that when my degree was all brand new I had some semblance of a plan for how my life as a teacher would lay out before me. I knew I had to be responsible to teach curricula, to maintain order in the classroom and to do it all with some sense of decorum. At least that’s what the university valiantly tried to tell me. At that point, though, I also figured there were things I just thought would never happen.

I never thought I’d have so much fun. After the first few nerve-wracking years, I settled in and let myself enjoy the characters I’d see every day. I’d come home with story after story of the things the students did or said – and thus became your typical teacher. We are all pretty guilty of that.

I never thought I’d have so much freedom to write, direct and get students of all ages excited about the arts. (Not that I ever learned to draw) I soon learned to appreciate the talent of the students around me and the crazy amount of time every staff was willing to add to their day to make sure Christmas concerts, drama nights, dinner theatres and all the rest – happened.

I never thought I’d love the freedom to celebrate faith in such a profound way. The number of school prayer services and Masses are too many to count but each one has been such a blessing. Being able to pray every day with students and talk about faith with honesty and reverence is a humbling gift. Together in faith, our joys and sorrows were shared on a daily basis. And because of that freedom, it made it so much easier to do the other things I never thought I’d have to do.

Like, I never thought I’d be asked by a Gr. 9 young man to pray with him after hearing the news his father had suffered a heart attack. I never thought I’d see a particularly troubled Jr. high student show up in my office one morning in tears after another awful night at home, and a night spent who-knows-where. And I never thought I’d be hearing the devastating news about a school in Taber in April 1999, just 20 minutes away, reeling from an unimaginable tragedy, changing the course of school communities forever.

As my years as a teacher moved along, I found myself saying a tearful good-bye to my first home – St. Catherine’s School in Picture Butte. Later on, saying farewell to St. Joseph’s in Coaldale and The Children of St. Martha’s Schools wasn’t any easier. I figured out I was just bad at this good-bye thing, although moving to SPFA was made so much easier with the warm welcome from the whole school community. In all, saying good-bye allowed me new experiences as a school administrator and the opportunity to get know four amazing school staffs and equally great colleagues on our Holy Spirit administrative team.

And as a young teacher with my newly polished degree and a long career ahead, I really never gave any thought to retirement. It was for old teachers and very, very far away. Yet, in the wink of an eye, here it is before me and I’m finding myself doing something else I never thought I’d have to – saying farewell to a profession that has been my heart and soul for many years. In a few weeks, I’ll hand in my keys and say good bye for the last time.  It has been a joyful, challenging and wonderful time and I wouldn’t change a thing. (Well, maybe a few things I wished I’d handled differently.) I pray that all of you – students, parents, teachers, support staff, admin colleagues, trustees – are richly blessed in your life journeys. With deep appreciation, I thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives.

About sbaier2014

Recently retired Principal of Holy Spirit Catholic Schools, a regional school division in Southern Alberta. Had a wonderfully challenging career!
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